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While I’m interviewing remodeling contractors, what questions should I ask?

Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must ask and answer yourself: “Do I feel comfortable with and trust the person I am about to do business with?”

Your answer to that question should make the hiring decision a little easier.

Other questions that are worth considering when interviewing a potential remodeler

How long have you been in business?

Look for a company with an established business history in your community. During the last recession, many remodeling businesses did not survive. Most successful contractors are proud of their history in the industry.

Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?

Ask who you should contact if the supervisor is not available. Get names and contact phone numbers for those who will be involved in the project.

What is the time frame for starting and finishing the project?

Now is the time to ask questions about production and work schedules. Questions should include:

  • What time will workers normally begin and end a work day?
  • Will you normally work on weekends?
  • If the schedule changes, when and how will I be notified?

What is your approach to a project of this scope?

This will give you an idea of how the contractor works and what to expect during the project. Listen carefully to the answer. This is one of the big indicators of the company’s work ethic.

How do you operate? In other words, how is your firm organized?

Do you have employees or do you hire subcontractors? If you do have employees, what are their job descriptions? Do you use a project supervisor or lead carpenter to oversee the project? Other firms will have additional positions. You should know what parts of your project will be handled by staff and which will be contracted out to independent, specialty and trade contractors.

Does your company specialize in new construction or remodeling?

The remodeling process is different when compared to new construction. Remodelers see you every day. We have to be mindful of you, your family, your pets and all special needs. A good remodeler must take all of this into account. Furthermore, remodelers have to take things apart before they put something back together. Knowing how to properly take something apart can save you money during the rebuilding process. Make sure your contractor specializes in remodeling.

Is your company a full service or specialty firm?

If your project involves multiple changes including framing, plumbing, electrical, flooring, drywall, painting, finish carpentry, flooring and especially entire rooms or additions, you should hire a full service remodeling company or design-build remodeling firm.

Do you offer design services?

If you are considering a large or involved project, you will need design services. If the contractor does not have design-build capabilities, you should consider hiring an architect or designer.

Does your company carry liability insurance?

Ask for copies of the insurance certificates to verify coverage. If the company has employees, make sure that the employees are covered by Worker’s Compensation insurance as well.

Are any of your company’s employees certified?

Trade certifications are good indicators of dedication, professionalism and knowledge of the industry. Certified remodelers are required to meet certain industry criteria and continue their education in order to maintain their certifications. This education goes well beyond the State of Oregon education requirements. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) offers several designations including: Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS), Certified Remodeler Associate (CRA), Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC), and Certified Remodeling Carpenter (CRC).

May I have a list of references for projects you have completed which are similar to mine?

The contractor should be able to supply you with a minimum of three references, including names, telephone numbers and addresses. As a follow up to this question, ask how long ago the project was completed and if the contractor can arrange a visit to see the finished job. You should also consider asking for professional references from suppliers, financial institutions or subcontractors to verify sound business practices.

What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?

This will give you a good indication about the company’s customer satisfaction rating. According to research conducted by NARI, most remodeling businesses attribute over 50% of their annual volume to customer referrals; some even claim up to 90% or more of their total annual sales.

How many projects like mine have you completed in the past 12 months?

This will help you determine the contractor’s familiarity with your type of project. You should confirm that a good portion of those completed projects were similar to the type of project you are proposing.

Will we need a permit for this project?

Failure to obtain the necessary permits or to arrange obligatory inspections can be illegal. In some cases, if a project violates a zoning law or some other regulations, it may even have to be demolished if there is no way to comply with the law. A qualified remodeling contractor will be conscious of the permit process, and ensure that all permits have been obtained before initiating any work.



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